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Yay Bagels!
I am quite a fan of bagels and was really excited to try them with the BBAC. I have never made them before so I pretty much went in blind. Now it should be noted…my dad is not the biggest fan of bagels.

Peter Reinhart does a great intro to these bagels as he describes his love for the perfect New York Bagel. Unfortunately for me, I suppose, I have not had the good luck to have a bagel in New York. So I think that I did not have too high a standard. This turned out to be a good thing.

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I usually find bagels too dense and hard for me. I am not a fan of the double calories found in bagels either. Now I don’t count calories, but I do acknowledge they exist, we have a love hate relationship, calories and me. So I was interested to see how these bagels would turn out for me.

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I decided to make them as a precursor to my mom’s birthday (it was on Victoria day, do you have Victoria Day in the US?). I made them for Sunday, the day before. I again rediscovered my love for kneading and making bread. It is just so satisfying and obviously a ridiculously good work out! The process went pretty smoothly. My only error was that I overproofed the dough before putting it into the fridge to retard overnight. There is a float test involved, and instead of coming to the surface in 10 seconds, mine floated right away. I knew that there was something not totally right as they looked a bit tooo puffy. I had a feeling they would flatten out. Oh Well!

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The next morning I got ready to boil and bake. I topped my bagels with poppy seeds. During the boiling it again became evident that they had overproofed when they floated immediately once more. They definitely didn’t puff up and look like commercial bagels. However, at this point I had not seen the more successful results of other BBA’ers and I was perfectly satisfied with what I saw.

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The final product was definitely a bit flatter than a regular bagel and had more air bubbles, much less dense than usual. Yet, this turned out perfect for us! We don’t really like super dense bagels anyways and these were soft and perfect. All’s Well that End’s Well!

Happy Baking!
-Natasha

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P1090663Soo, BBA Challenge #2. I’m getting a bit of a head start because I do have exams coming up and well, probably won’t be cooking much then. So unfortunately I can’t do a long post right now, I am trying to catch up on some work (got to stop slacking!!!)  but I wanted to get this up.

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So this bread caused me many problems. I called it the bread of Murphy’s Law. Everything that can go wrong, will go wrong. I took out the poolish (pre-ferment) to get to room temp, but didn’t prep the ingredients. Then, I prepped the ingredients but forgot to take the poolish out when they were ready (I had put it back in while I prepped). Then I made a beautiful dough and realized I forgot to add the eggs! I was so frustrated. I was so upset. And then my grandma saved the day. Calmed me down and added the eggs into the dough bit by bit. 

Bread came out huge and beautiful and golden. It may have risen a bit too much as I might have put a bit too much yeast into the poolish, but it worked out ok. In fact, the spices in the bread give out this amazing aroma that my parents loved. It is a great bread and we are just finishing it up now.

As a group, we are not giving out the recipes as we are encouraging everyone to buy the book and I really recommend it! The breads in there are great and afterwards I know that I will be able to try out even more things and add flavourings and new dimensions to the breads. I am loving the magic of the yeast which grows and adds so much to the bread. I love the BBA Challenge!

I apologize that the pictures aren’t too great, I didn’t have the chance to set up and make better ones.

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So I am very excited to take part in the BBA Challenge hosted by Pinch My Salt. The idea is that we are going to bake every bread from Peter Reinhart’s Bread Baker’s Apprentice. One bread a week. I’m so excited! It’s going to be rough sometimes as I am still in school but I hope I can keep up. The deadline is May 10th (tomorrow) to join so hop on over to Pinch My Salt to sign up. There’s over 100 bakers already of all different experience levels. What’s great about it is how helpful everyone is… I love being in a community like that because you always have that support.

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The first bread on the list is Anadama, a traditional New England bread. Though apparently it’s not complicated, I have never done a sponge before so it was very new for me (I’m always so paranoid about these things, I stayed close to it all times and willed it to bubble I swear!). But everything ended up working out great. The bread is interesting because it has a cornmeal base with molasses as a sweetener so it produced a very unique taste.

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It basically consisted of soaking the cornmeal overnight, making a sponge, making the dough and letting it rise, then shaping it, putting it into pans and letting it rise again. What came out was pretty much an amazing sandwich bread. It had a thin but crunch crust thanks to the cornmeal and the inside was so soft and fluffy. Since I don’t bake bread a lot (at all!) I was fascinated by how delicate and soft the risen dough was.

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My family loved the bread, it made two loaves so we gave one to my aunt. The bread was slightly sweet due to the molasses and was excellent toasted with butter. Everyone said it was so different from what they had before (white bread, whole wheat bread, grandma’s amaazing whole wheat bread!). I would love to make it again if I didn’t have a year of different breads ahead. After though!

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Next is Artos, Greek Celebration Bread.

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